Last week’s post got my stomach as far as Renaison in the heart of the Côte Roannaise. Friday 19th September took me from Renaison to Nevers some 156 kilometres of mainly flat riding. It also included the worst weather I encountered during my eight-day ride. I had an hour of torrential rain just the north of Roanne with the road rapidly turning into a river. Fortunately it cleared up and was mainly dry all the way to Nevers.
Here we stayed at the Hotel des Clèves – in the centre of Nevers, simple, friendly place to stay with a place to store bikes overnight. Nevers is the start of the Loireà Vélo trail that runs from here to the Atlantic. It was a good move to put my bike on our car outside Nevers because the centre of the town is a maze of one-way streets and we only got the car to our hotel with the assistance of our GPS.
Following a recommendation from our hotel we ate that evening at the nearby La Table d’Alexandre (6, Rue Henri Barbusse), which I learned later had only opened at the end of October 2013. Although it was Friday night the restaurant was almost empty, so we were a little dubious. This proved to be completely unfounded as we had a fine meal.
I started with a duo de saumon – smoked and gravlax, while Carole had a copious salade de gesiers, which I helped her finish. Rather piggish behaviour I agree but I had ridden over 160 kilometres that day I might be excused.
For my main course I chose one of my rognons de veau, while Carole had the lotte (monkfish). These dishes accompanied a couple of good half bottles of Coteaux de Giennois from Michel Langlois – 2012 Les Charmes (white) and 2011 Champ de la Croix. Both were good examples of their appellation with the white refreshingly citric and the red lightly spicy and easy drinking.
The next stage (Saturday 20th September) was deliberately short – just 73 kilometres from Nevers to Chavignol with a quick diversion into Pouilly-sur-Loire for a photo opportunity at the half-way point – 496 kms to the source and 496 kms to the Atlantic. This was partly to have an opportunity to have a quick look at how the vines in Sancerre and Pouilly were looking just before the vintage but also to stay and eat at the Hotel La Côte des Monts Damnés run by Carine and Jean-Marc Bourgeois.
Much of the Saturday afternoon was pretty wet and miserable. From our quick swing through the vineyards, there were a few signs of rot in both the Pinot Noir and Sauvignon but this should have come to any thing as from the following Monday the weather reverted back to being wonderfully dry and warm.
Every time I eat at Jean-Marc’s restaurant I find it almost impossible not to start with his great speciality – Tagliatelle géante de Crottin
au Beurre de Muscade. Over the years it has evolved and become more sophisticated but it remains always absolutely delicious. In any case long-distance cyclists are supposed to take on plenty of carbohydrates.
My main course was a wonderfully tender filet de de Canette des Dombes, légumes de saison en crumble, jus perlé, while Carole enjoyed the filet de Rouget-Grondin, purée de pommes de terre, Langoustines & son trait d’huile d’olive. We both finished with the soufflé chaud aux griottes. After a glass of 2013 Sancerre Blanc, we enjoyed a bottle of 2010 Hommage à Nicolas Sancerre Rouge from Domaine Nicolas and Pascal Reverdy.
Next week’s concluding Part 3 will take my stomach from Chavignol to the Atlantic.